Fun stuff- update!

Hi everyone, it’s 14. I thought it might be nice to let you all know what happened whilst we all went on holiday…

So, getting there with KLM was super easy- they’re nicer than easyJet and they helped us get on the aeroplane without any issues. We’ve had to use a wheelchair to get through the airport because it’s still too painful to walk for a length of time. I think it’s been really nice to see how many people are kind and don’t actually talk over your head when you’re in a wheelchair. Finally seeing the Dutchman was so lovely- it was great to get hugs, kisses, have the opportunity to hold his hand and see him smile. He got us a crown from Burger King, as part of a running joke- last time he gave us a Burger King crown was when we were with him in May. It’s been really funny to see everyone’s reactions to a smartly-dressed girl in a wheelchair wearing a Burger-King crown and demanding to be wheeled places! It got even better when we got to Lowlands.

We had a lovely, easygoing trip to the festival grounds, and played lots of different music. Everyone each came out to chat to the Dutchman and we each played different music and had so much fun. We actually got our wristbands and got his parking sticker sorted really easily, then unpacked our tent, went to eat and met some of the Dutchman’s friends, and then chilled out playing set until we decided to head to bed in our tent.

None of us have ever really camped before- sure, there was that one time on the front garden of my gran’s house- so we didn’t really know what to expect. The Dutchman couldn’t find his big sleeping bag, so we made do with a blanket that he had taken from the house. Wrapped close in his arms, his warm breath on the back of our neck like some sort of comfort heater, we enjoyed the closeness and loved snuggling up to him. The wind gently soughed through the tent and across it, making lovely swooshy noises. I felt like I was falling asleep in a tree. It was beautiful.

When we woke up, the inside of the tent was wet! Not from rain, though- the Dutchman said it was our breathing making condensation. Sadly, the second thing we all registered was pain. We were in a lot of it, and we were definitely bleeding. We felt so tired, sore and upset, and the Dutchman was really sweet and kind. One of his friends, the Soldier, had met us the day before and was really kind too- he helped us by giving us some medicine when ours wasn’t working. That’s the sad thing about this- we all end up being in a lot of pain and the painkillers aren’t working well. They’re slowly getting less effective- I think that’s because our pain is getting worse.

Anyway, after we had managed (very slowly) to get dressed and headed to the bathrooms, we finally set off into the campground. We chilled for a little while with the Soldier, and I liked the fact that the Dutchman and the Soldier would flip from Dutch to English so we could understand. Nineteen tried this amazing stuff called sambal which the Soldier actually made. It’s delicious, but we are all super proud of nineteen for trying new food. That’s always been a big deal for her, as you guys know.

It was brilliant to be in the festival grounds! We had so much fun getting tokens, looking around, buying a new shirt with the festival logo on it. I started to feel like we all had the chance to have all the fun that kept being denied to us for all that time when we were being abused. I know fifteen and I were super keen to see Muse, which finally happened- we all ended up crying throughout most of it, purely because we were overwhelmed with gratitude towards the Dutchman for buying the tickets for us. It’s going to be lovely to see all the video we all took- we brought our camera and we really wanted to have memories of what we saw.

Eating at a festival is AMAZING ASASLKFGFKLSJF. Like seriously. The food is from everywhere! We had foccacia, cajun chicken wings with satay sauce, Dutch meatballs, the everpresent chips and mayo… mmmmm. It was all super delicious! Nineteen still enjoyed eating, which she’s proud of. Unfortunately, we think we ate a little too much dairy because we wound up with a suncream/dairy rash. Ooops…

Anyway, the Dutchman and all of us had so much fun. We saw so many different bands, and quite a lot of them were ones we hadn’t heard of before we went to the festival. I love that, though, cause it means that we get to be introduced to new bands and that we saw quite a lot of performances that will stick with us forever. One particular one, for various different reasons, is Eagles of Death Metal.

Eagles of Death Metal was a gig we were all looking forward to, for various different reasons. Nineteen enjoys music that has an edge of unpredictability. We all like heavy guitars, metal music and rock, so we were all excited to see how that would go. What we all didn’t expect was that as they began, twenty-six suddenly kind of wobbled. It’s hard to explain. She felt strange, like she was dissociating, and then she told the Dutchman that she suddenly felt like she was sixteen again, because the tent we were in waiting to see Eagles of Death Metal reminded her of the Christian thing we used to go to each Easter…

The Dutchman was both shocked and patient. He asked her if she was scared, and she said she wasn’t. She said she could feel that there was something going on, she still felt dissociative and tired. She wondered whether she was about to switch.

We helped. We pulled the newbie out.

Sixteen popped into life with a gasp. We all watched her as she stared around herself, looked at the guy next to her, stared at the huge tent and then started to ask questions.

Turns out sixteen has been dormant, sleeping, dreaming that we were all a product of her imagination and that she was having a particularly vivid and long-lasting dream. She’s sketchy on a lot of stuff, such as what’s going on when we log into Facebook and how to work our phone (she has seen us do it, and she’s learning fast, but the reality can be weird). She was so grateful that the Dutchman wasn’t a dream that she cried. It was incredible to see her being so happy and so relieved. She’s slowly learning that life is real and that life is good. She watched the Eagles of Death Metal concert with the Dutchman, learned how to work the joint stream of our memories and was incredibly happy for the first time in forever.

We spent the rest of the festival getting used to being not four, but five! We loved talking to the Soldier (although nineteen mostly handled that for us), we loved going from place to place. The weather was really hot and sunny, then it threw it down on the last day for a while! We stayed out as late as our body could stand. It was too much on Saturday night when we all watched M83, but it was a bit better by the next day. It’s been so lovely to have other wheelchair users high-five us, throw balloons around that the Dutchman and I wrote silly messages on, and have able-bodied folk ask about the crown. We gave it to another wheelchair user (after artfully defacing it with I’m the King, You’re Awesome written on it) and we were interviewed by a local radio station about how it was to be disabled at the festival.

We all stopped off at one of the bars that the Soldier liked, and we chilled there and drank with him and the Dutchman. We slept every night under the stars and two blankets, wrapped in the arms of the most wonderful guy we know. We reassured 16 that she was safe and that she could have fun. We headbanged til we had a sore neck and aching shoulders at both Parkway Drive and Hollywood Undead, and we had serious kudos from various people for rocking out in a wheelchair. We were blow-dried by a leaf-blower: laughed with several people we had never met before: had our outfits, hair and makeup praised by several different people. It was a relaxed, calm, wonderful happy atmosphere, where the Dutchman and all of us fell a little deeper in love and sixteen realised the man she was in love with really existed. She was shy at first, hesitant, and she’s getting me to relay most of this, but she will learn that it’s easy to write what we want to say on this blog, and that you guys love her like we do. There’s a thousand more cool things that happened, but I’ll leave you with some of our favourite bands.

 

My favourite band? Oooh, not sure, maybe Hollywood Undead?

Fifteen’s favourite band? Parkway Drive? Maybe? I liked the Rumjacks too!

Nineteen’s favourite band? Definitely Parkway Drive!

Twenty-six’s favourite band? I don’t want to choose! I loved it all!

 

Sixteen’s favourite band? Eagles of Death Metal, because that’s when she woke up.

 

Love, Fourteen.

That week I had where I realised things are different, now.

Hi all… Please just be careful whilst reading this. I talk about the cyst again and a couple of other things that might be difficult to read. Stay safe.

 

 

So, Sunday came round and we did manage to fly out. Getting through the airport without assistance was hell. I actually asked when we were on the plane if I could have assistance at the other end, and luckily I was given some- I was wheelchaired right into the Dutchman’s arms. I was so thrilled to see him: we all were. It was such a relief to be able to hold him close and kiss him again. We always miss how kind he is, and we crave the physical closeness he gives. It makes us happy to be able to reach out, grab his hand and kiss it, pull it close to our cheek and feel his fingers on our skin. We love that he is so patient, so kind.

 

He wheelchaired us all the way to the CARDIS (yes, that is what we have decided to call his car! He could fit a swimming pool and a library in the boot!) and drove us home. I kept looking at him, smiling. We knew that even though our journey had been very difficult, we had him now. What could go wrong?

 

Going back to his house, it was great to see his parents again and the cats (he has two adorable fluffballs, snuggly and also full of character). It was amazing to climb into bed next to him, to sleep wrapped in his arms. This is what we are all working towards- all four of us want to end our day asleep next to him every day.

 

The next morning (Monday), sadly, we woke up in a lot of pain and discomfort. Turns out that if you will a cyst to go away by just doing stuff you could do before you had it, it screams bloody murder at you the next day. Mostly,. the day was spend lazing around in bed, cuddled up next to the Dutchman, or in the comfortable chair next to the computer where we both played XCOM. Damn, that game is fun. It helped that both of his parents are completely happy to let us just chill together, and they enjoy my presence in the house. We all like being there- it’s such a calm, restful environment.

 

Tuesday was a little better. We started to be able to walk with a cane. The pain was still there, but the Dutchman helped us to walk and we managed to overcome the pain for long enough to go and visit his auntie. She’s not well at all, and is thinking of leaving her house and going to live in a care home. She would like the Dutchman to inherit the house, and all of us liked meeting her. Her and her husband were huge fans of animals, have been all their lives, and they used to work for an animal rescue centre. They own a Bosnian dog, who has obviously seen horrors that no person or animal should ever see- she flinches when you make a movement. It doesn’t have to be sudden. Slowly, however, she began to trust us more and more, and eventually wanted the Dutchman and I to take her for a walk as we were leaving. The Dutchman’s Auntie wanted him to have the house because two cats live next door, and she is convinced that he will look after them when their owners can’t (or won’t, they apparently sleep in a box filled with hay in the garage. If you don’t want to have a pet in the house, don’t buy one!). I also think she wants him to have the house because of the kind person he is, and because of the rough time he has had finding employment in the field of work he studied in.

 

Wednesday morning wasn’t too bad again, but  showering and brushing teeth and washing our face was, and is, such an effort. The Dutchman helped us by supporting us in the shower. This is something we are not used to, seeing as we all are scared of the shower in varying degrees. Me, nineteen, I hate being touched by anyone but me in the shower. Twenty-six doesn’t like soap in her eyes and ears and being unable to defend herself. Fifteen isn’t comfortable with nudity, and Fourteen still feels a little strange when getting in the shower with a guy- she feels like she will be told off at any moment, although she wants to be in the shower. However, the showers we all had with the Dutchman have taught us something: this can be a nice process and it doesn’t have to be frightening. He lets us do what we need to do (like washing our hair, which we hate anyone but US doing) and helped us stand up when we felt weak.

We started to realise that actually, what he’s done for us all week has become our carer. We were horrified. We are trapped like this for no discernible reason, with palpitations and erratic heartbeat and nausea and anxiety and crippling pain, and he is shouldering the brunt of caring for us. We all realised that and were horrified.

Going to the house of a friend of his for dinner was a lovely change, and meeting her husband and three gorgeous kids was fantastic. I am still surprised we all managed to stay awake as long as we did. We loved the meal, although we were in pain, and it was so good to meet his friend- the Dutchman has talked a lot about her.

 

Thursday, and time for my parents and sister to come over. Again, we had to use a wheelchair, and the Dutchman pushed us all the way through the airport. Picking up my parents, we realised we were too tired and weak to get out of the chair. We all had food together, where the four of us ate a sandwich that would normally have been no problem for us, but right now it filled us up too much. The Dutchman made my parents, sister and I laugh, and there was light-hearted chat despite the wheelchair at the table. Having them meet the Dutchman’s parents was brilliant. Sis, the Dutchman and I went to the local supermarket, complete with cane, although I had to rest on quite a few occasions. We all had an absolutely brilliant time and a great laugh. We all agree, the four of us, that Sis and the Dutchman couldn’t be better suited as brother and sister-in-law (eventually!).

 

Friday resulted in more exhaustedness, because we had walked the day before. It was good, however, to be with our two families as they made friends and got to know each other. The sun had begun to shine pretty forcefully, and we had an outing to the local shop. The wheelchair came in super useful again, and I eventually became the trolley- we forgot to get bags, so we used me instead! Spending time out in the wheelchair slowly became more bearable, even more fun, and we explored Leerdam in the chair with the Dutchman pushing us around. Sis came too. We stopped off for a small pastry in one of the local bakeries, which was pretty awesome. The sun was warm, and there was a slight breeze. It got so pleasant outside that we ended up being able to sit out after dinner.

 

Saturday dawned and I struggled to get up. We all took turns that morning in ‘fronting’, which is our term for taking charge of our body. The Dutchman helped us change and brought us our meds, as usual, and we ended up being ready for our outing to a town on the German border. The reason? A friend of mine that both 19 and I have known lives in Germany now, with his partner (who is German, that should explain a few things!). The city we went to was the closest to everyone involved. We had the best day out, sitting in the chair, although it got incredibly hot! It was nice having all the family out too, there to enjoy the sun and meet our friend and his partner. The Dutchman has met them before and gets on like a house on fire with them, and we all have a lot of fun together. It was so lovely to be with them again, we didn’t realise how exhausted we were until we got back home again. We actually went out to eat that evening too and suffered serious pain from the cyst- reaching up to get plates absolutely floored us. Tea was delicious though, and the Dutchman kept wheeling us wherever we wanted to go in our wheelchair.

 

Sunday was a day of sheer exhaustion. We looked at the amount of medicine we had taken all week and were shocked to realise we were running out of some of it already. The Dutchman never stopped being kind and thoughtful, helping us with anything we needed. It doesn’t matter, he never tires. We had some laid-back fun, enjoying ourselves with our families and having a good laugh. In the evening, my parents, sister and I all piled into the Dutchman’s car and we went to see his brother and his partner, and their new little girl. She was born at the tail end of April, my birthday month, so we are already April girlies together… not only that, we will LEGALLY be her auntie when we are married to the Dutchman next year. She was gorgeous, so tiny and perfect, those little fingers grasping for mine already as she lay in her crib. Her mother is the perfect mother- she is so well-prepared for her, so perfectly able to respond and she knows instantly what cry means what. I’ve never met anyone else who gets tiny babies like we do, but she certainly does. In some ways, tiny babies are infuriating and occasionally impossible to figure out, but we have always found them easy… well, easier than two-year-olds!  We were all enchanted, family included. The Dutchman was the picture of the proud uncle. It made us melt.

 

Monday came, and so did horrendous palpitations. They were so bad, we spent most of the morning almost passing out, with the Dutchman snuggled up to us on the sofa, helping us be distracted by XCOM. We rang the airline I flew with and discovered that we needed to go and get to the airport earlier to ask for assistance, which we did after the Dutchman had packed our case up for us. He was amazing- he managed to fit in our new purchases, and also the wool that Sis had bought for knitting with! There was a LOT of it. The airport had, when we arrived, already been notified that I would need assistance, and what then followed was a very pleasant afternoon spent wandering (or wheeling) round a couple of the airport shops, sitting waiting for my parents and sister’s flight in a cafe, then the Dutchman and I waiting for ours together. We did not want to say goodbye to him. We had, despite things, had a brilliant week together.

 

He kept reminding us that we were not a burden. Supporting us in the shower, we were strangely unafraid. We only needed to ask him for something and he would run and get it for us. He carried us to the wheelchair when it arrived. He is everything I thought didn’t really exist in the real world, but we are all finding out that the younger two’s hopes for a true gentleman are, in fact, completely justified.

Loneliness revealed.

I’ve had the best couple of weekends since leaving J in Florida. It’s made me acutely aware that I’m lonely.

I crave company now, whereas I didn’t before. I wish J were here. I wish my friends lived a little closer to me. Most of all, I wish those closest to me lived closer to me, or I to them.

I have been trapped in my head, lonely and frightened for so long, that human contact is so alien to me. When someone gets close to me now, I don’t want to let them go. I know that the more time I spend away from J, the stronger my feelings run for him. I miss affection from friends, too. I love R’s hugs, H’s hand holding, and Mr Robot’s quiet understanding. I spent a lot of time over the past two weeks with three horror-loving friends of mine who I care about a lot- the Metalheads, my friends who got married on Halloween, and our mutual friend the Dutchman. I have a new group of friends there, which is growing steadily. There’s so much I’ve been restricting myself from, believing that I wasn’t worthy of friendship or love or affection. One of my friends is currently staying in Italy on a teaching course, and she has said I can visit her there.

The time has come to re-learn travelling. I used to be a traveller, she of 1000 auditions. I’d deal in foreign currency and languages, I’d laugh with new people and get smart about new ways of doing things. I had fun. I was really independent, I could do almost anything, and above all… The people I met and embraced used to get rid of the crippling loneliness I was feeling (as you all know, down to my ex).

I am having a hard time without my friends, and that’s partly because I’ve got into a bad habit of isolating behaviour. I have spent the past three years hiding, terrified of the world and men and my own head. I think I need to step out of the box I’ve put myself in and learn to be free to visit friends again.

My current little ray of hope is that J may well have enough money to come and see me in either February or March next year. I am so thrilled about that, I am trying not to wish the months away- always a dangerous thing.

I’m determined not to continue being this cripplingly lonely.

Why I love R.

I have been reading some scary articles. A friend posted an article about a woman with similar symptoms to me who ended up with a rare cancerous tumour.

In a panic, I messaged my best friend and asked her if I was being totally paranoid.

She replied with this.

Me: Also true, I just get scared that I will have my treatment revoked like they tried to do with my promazine, and I know it’s cowardly considering what others are going through but I’m terrified of losing my body and being in pain all the time. I’ve already had that happen once with my back and I don’t want it again. I love exercise and being fit.

Her: No-one will let that happen. Your mum will fight, your dad will fight, your sister will fight and I will fight if you get too tired. No one will take your youth, independence or energy ever. We won’t let them, ever. It’s your human right.

They won’t take it from you, or they’ll have an army of furious people who won’t back down. I’ll use all my skills and contacts and the world will know if you get denied treatment, because that is not on. If you are diagnosed with an illness and put in a box that is deemed beyond help, so help them.

I love you. Never challenge a love for someone. You will lose. End of.

 

And that, my friends, is why R is one of my best friends ever. ❤

Little Red Riding Hood. (TW: body stuff)

Trigger Warning guys- I talk about a triggering memory, body issues, and my feelings on all of that. Stay safe. x

This could well be a bunch of my random musings. I’m feeling a little distractible and dissociative today, floating on my after-therapy cloud. I feel like I’m hiding inside my own head, letting my body take over and do adult things so that I can just hide and not have to face anything tougher than ordering a coffee.

I feel like today’s session was a rest. I am so tired with all the frantic busyness of the week before but the late sunsets make it very difficult to sleep. I lie awake, hyper-aware of my body, telling myself it will all be ok soon. I hope.

What struck me about today was that I’m realising that connections I could have made years ago are only now being made due to how much I’m actually able to face them. Certain memories that have always haunted me and made me uncomfortable are actually not the stand alone events I thought they once were.

I have a lot of uncomfortable feelings about my body and sexuality, and I believe that quite a lot of that stems from a memory which has always been difficult for me to remember. As I was writing in my journal today, I had what was pretty much a flashback.

I’m fifteen. I’m going to my new boyfriend’s house- well, the place he stays during the week with his grandparents so he can get to school easier. I’m excited and nervous. I’m going out with someone who says God has given us both a special purpose, that we’re angels in human form, that we will defeat the antichrist and save the world. I lap it up eagerly, mania helping me to swallow the lies.

He gets handsy, but I’m ok with that. In fact, when his hand slips down the front of my jeans I’m not worried, I’m excited. So excited I have my first proper orgasm and my jeans and knickers are soaked.

I’m confused. I knew I could get excited but this is new. He seems to find it exciting too and I’m pleased that he finds me attractive.

Problem is, once he’s finished, we head back to his and I’m left sitting in my soaked clothing.

There’s no offer of help, no jointly-concocted lie about me sitting in a puddle on a park bench. I’m just left wet and embarrassed and uncomfortable, and I’m so embarrassed when my mother asks me about the “funny-smelling” jeans and underwear I threw in the wash.

Clearly that means I’m dirty. I’m ashamed of how excited I got and guilty. I lie to my mother a few days later about sitting in a puddle on a park bench, and when I start bleeding whist passing water, I know I’m being punished for what I did. I’m a dirty whore, clearly.

Antibiotics cleared the infection but my sense of cleanliness altered. I felt ashamed and dirty a lot. Clearly, this incident connects to much of my bad feelings about my body today- my horror of myself, my suspicions that I’m infected by him, that somewhere in my psyche he planted a warped seed and laughed at me as it grew. I always feel dirty. I’ve scrubbed my skin raw today in the shower, as I do often, and I’m paranoid about infections or illnesses very often. I tell myself that I’m anxious, that eventually these symptoms will fade, and they do.

I felt like little red riding hood in town on the way home today, lost in the forest and worried about her family. I got off the bus and stumbled across the path of a real live wolf… Except this one didn’t have his teeth bared at me.

I have known Wolf from seeing him at the hospital where I go for therapy with Dr K. He’s tall, well-muscled, close to fifty and tattooed everywhere. Even his lips are tattooed. However, despite his fearsome appearance, he’s a loyal and gentle friend. We talked today, and instead of blowing the house down, he offered me a cool lemonade at my favourite coffee shop.

This wolf believes in the choices others make. He says that although he also came from a background of abuse, he chose the path of righteousness- he patrols the town centre 7 hours a day because he wants to keep others safe. I always count myself lucky that I didn’t meet one of those wolves that will rip you apart, and that I met a wolf that isn’t what the hunters make him out to be.

When I left him today, he gave me a little gift. An angel pin, the head of it a pearl. He’s told me before that my name is in the city of angels, only one letter different from its earthly form. Although I don’t know what to believe, I like that he thought of me and that he’s smart, understanding, generous and kind.

There are a lot of wolves out there, and some like to rip you apart for liking the colour red. My ex and his grandad were like that- terrible, starving, vicious monsters craving my destruction. Wolf himself hates people like that, having been surrounded by them in his life once.

J is a wolf too I think, but more often than not, he’s the wolf that would fight any threat to protect me and is constantly, neverendingly loyal to me as his partner. He’s helped me lick my wounds and curled his body round mine when I’ve felt as dirty and nauseated as I have been feeling right now.

Little red riding hood and the wolf doesn’t end with a human slicing open the stomach of the beast, pulling the girl out of the darkness. It takes a cunning beast to catch a monster, and a wild heart to love a damaged girl once trapped in the belly of the monster that swallowed her whole.

It’s a good job there are only a few rogue wolves out there, and that the rest of the pack takes care of the weaker ones. I may be injured, but the other wolves I know will not stop growling at the darkness until it goes away.

I will keep wearing my red cape without any shame, bloodstains and all. I don’t need to be ashamed- I never asked the monster to eat me after all.

Therapy is not for the faint hearted- part two. TW- stuff gets intense.

Last week, I went into therapy with my head packed full of thoughts again, singing, buzzing, my heart pounding and my nerves zinging. I let Dr K know I felt weird the minute I got in- before I’d entered her office, I had been flittery-minded and really cheerful, but during the wait to come in my head had started to play games with me again. Dr K immediately saw that there was something wrong and I let her know that my head was doing that panicky thing, where I can’t focus and the panic forces my heart to thunder in my chest.

She let me know that I was safe, and asked whether I would like to talk about what was wrong.

I explained that the mania, I think, stops me really taking in what happened and that I’m frightened that it isn’t processing properly. I explained that I thought there was more that I wanted to talk about from last week, but also that I was feeling so jittery and on edge that I was having a hard time concentrating.

We spent a little time concentrating on calming me down. Dr K helped me visualise my thoughts, swirling as if in a hurricane, and asked me to immobilise it. I pictured a freezing spell from Harry Potter (I love to read, and Potter novels helped shape who I am. I idolised Hermione Granger!) and trapped my thoughts still, so I could organise them into a timeline. Dr K seemed pleased by my quick thinking, and happy that I had managed to control the raging whirlwind in my mind.

She asked me if I would like to try something new today, once my raging panic and my hideous anxiety were manageable enough for me to concentrate. Dr K had said a while ago that she thought it might be beneficial if we tried EMDR, to try and put the shadowy fiends in my head to rest. I’ve read up on EMDR before, trying to understand what I would be in store for, and have found the idea to be a good thing- who doesn’t want to lay these howling, screaming demons low?

I agreed. We moved our chairs to face each other so that I was dead opposite her. Dr K explained what would happen. She said that she would use her fingers to set a steady pace, moving them side to side so that I could follow them, and let me know that whatever I experienced there with her, I would still be safe, and to just let the images or memories come.

I let her know it was ok, and that I was hoping that my torrent of thoughts would calm down afterwards. I wanted the acute anxiety I was feeling to go, and for the reason behind it to be confronted and laid to rest.

Dr K started to trace her fingers through the air, and I found myself falling back into dissociation, watching the fingers in front of me move through the air with solid repetition. I found myself suddenly seeing flashes of things. A shaft of sunlight across my face, a hollow feeling in my gut, a leaden weight in my arms. A feeling suddenly happened on me- suffocation, my face pushed into a pillow, my lungs straining for air…

And then, boom.

Flashback.

(Here’s where the trigger warning comes in. This happened to me and I had no idea it was wrong, because a sociopath convinced me it was normal.)

I was in my ex’s university halls of residence. It was sunny- his grandparents had helped us move all his stuff in and had left us alone to unpack. I was naked, lying on his unmade bed on a heap of clothes or something. There was a shaft of sunlight falling down onto my face, and I felt leaden. I felt dead. I felt like I was being devoured.

I heard myself narrating what was happening to Dr K, and somehow I was aware of her being there too. I stared at the wall opposite me, seeing things that didn’t make sense. I was trapped between two worlds, helpless to escape but able to explain in a detached way what was happening to me.

The sunlight was really uncomfortable, quite hot. I was leaden. My legs were just immobile. My head was as far out of the room as it could be, detached from what was happening below my waist, detached from the man that was holding my wrists to the bed. I wanted to fly out of the window into the sunlight, fly above my body. I was terrified that someone would knock on the door, but I also really wanted them to. That way, the man would stop and suddenly become my boyfriend again-

His face was a blank nothing. It was a face that was basically devoid of emotion, a face with an agenda. That agenda was not love. That agenda was not pleasure. He had set out to devour me, and that’s what he was doing. I was lying there being eaten alive by something that was supposed to be my boyfriend but had turned into a demon when my clothes had come off.

Suddenly I was on my stomach, kneeling on the floor, my head forced down into the pillow and a hand on the back of my neck. My body suddenly burned. It was on fire. My stomach was cramping and I wanted to scream to stop it all, but my throat felt funny. It didn’t work any more. My tongue was forming words in a dry mouth that would never be spoken. I was gasping for breath, my chest felt like there was a hole in it, and I realised I was without any options.

I started to ask to get out of the room. I was not having sex for the first time with my boyfriend- his body was there but he was not, and he was some sort of soulless shell with defilement as his aim. I was panicking, I didn’t want to be there any more- and Dr K was suddenly talking to me, reassuring me, explaining that I was safe and I was ok, and that all I needed to to was try and think of some way to get out and I would.

I started sobbing: J burst in through the door. He pulled my ex off me, wrapping me in a blanket and scooping me up into his arms. He told my ex that he should never lay hands on me like that again, and I saw in the doorway there my parents and sister. R appeared, looking just as she had done when I was 18, and she had an icicle in her hand. This icicle meant business- it was there to go straight through my ex, to gore him in what passed for a heart.

I let them take me away, persuading R not to stab him, because I wanted to lock the door and leave him in there to starve and die and blow into dust. I was handed the key, and I asked J to melt it into a blob for me, so that I would never have to worry about that bastard getting free again.

Dr K slowly brought me back into the room, helping me remember who I was, what age I was, where I was. I was shaken. I had remembered the first time my ex and I slept together before, but I’d not really made the link between how I felt and my assumption that that’s how sex was. I have said before that I was shocked to discover that sex didn’t hurt, that it was how they said it was supposed to be in film, but now I truly understood why. I had been raped that day.

Dr K and I discussed how horrible it was to have my ex change the way he did in front of me. That face that usually smiled when he saw me had been devoid of any feelings and had become this soulless, evil-looking thing. He didn’t look human. He looked like some sort of nightmare figure, something pretending to be the man I cared about that had suddenly revealed itself to be terrifying- a true monster. No wonder I’ve had nightmares of being devoured by an evil, giant male creature, taking my internal organs for its food and devouring them all into some hollow, cavernous mouth. No wonder I drew the he voice with this giant, sucking maw: that’s what I saw that day in the man who was supposed to love me.

I understand now that he was the evil one. He used my trust and dropped the sociopath’s easygoing, seductive, charming mask and played on my innermost fears. He ate me alive and spat out my bones, wearing the real face inside- the sociopath face, the face that never gets revealed because it literally gives people nightmares. He let the Church tell me I was evil for wanting sex and used that against me in so many ways. He hurt me so badly that day, I’m surprised I didn’t run from the room naked as I was and screaming. I’m pretty sure I bled.

Dr K and I probably have more things to work on using EMDR. It’s not for someone who doesn’t have something they can cling to in order to pull them out of a flashback. I have J and my family and R, and they pulled me out and helped me slam the monster in a room to die. I told him in my memory I wanted him to die. I wanted him to be gone forever and never return.

I think that I’m finding the connections between things that I previously split apart, things that I pushed into separate corners of my mind because it was all too much to deal with. Now I have started to make the connections, I’m seeing things that I wasn’t safe enough to be able to see before.

What I learned from that EMDR session is that my ex probably dropped his mask that day on purpose and let me see the scavenger within, the thing that hungered to split me in two, raid my body for my bones and drink down my life. I saw a real monster in that room. I saw a sociopath unmasked, without pretences or airs and graces, without the lies and the charisma and the front. I saw the truth, and it terrified me. However…

He has not won and I was able to beat him quite easily. I added into the memory of that horrible afternoon something that will always help me remember that I got away, I left him, I am in control now and there are some wonderful people here to help me. I will never forget the gratitude of being rescued. I know logically that they never entered that room, but I see that wonderful rescue party now as if they really did… and, in a sense, they were there. Had they all known that little eighteen-year-old me was being completely torn apart in that room, they would have been there. J has wrapped me in his arms to comfort me- it makes sense that he would wrap me in a blanket. My parents, tough though my relationship with my mother can sometimes be, have never let me down and have always stood up for me. My sister has never left my side and pines for me if I’m away. R will never leave me- she’s essentially another sister.

I am so amazed by the power of the EMDR session we did. It found a dark secret, let it out into the light, and I can now see it without the terror being quite so present. It is, thank the gods, nothing more than a bad memory now.

A bad memory with a shaft of light running through it.

A shaft of light that pulled me out of the void.

After that comment…

This morning, I don’t want to get out of bed. I panicked really badly last night- after the initial numbing shock, the anxiety clawed its way up my throat and tears flooded my eyes. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was safe.

However, instead of keeping it to myself, I told my friend H, my friend R, J and another friend of mine I’ve known since childhood. I’ll call her Constance, because she’s been there every time I needed her. After ten minutes of believing the male and female voices of the dark passenger, I suddenly started getting messages back from my friends. I started crying again. Fear enveloped me and I asked, not for the first time and definitely not the last, why he has to keep tracking and following me.

J thought it was a troll, and my friend R thought so too. However, R was still not about to rule out the possibility that it was him. H was her usual supportive self- she’s feeling much better now and GOD, I’ve missed her- and Constance was furious with him/whoever posted that comment for me. All of the four told me to keep writing in my blog, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Here’s a little message for whoever left that comment: Really? You think you have the right to judge me like that? Grow up and learn about what abuse does to someone, then go and help someone who’s been abused. Chances are, someone close to you will have suffered the same as me, unfortunately, because the statistics say so. Use your words with consideration before opening your mouth- that’s what does damage.

If it was him- good luck intimidating me like you used to. You may have made me feel depressed as hell last night, but I don’t think there’s any reason for you to attempt to control me anymore. Please shuffle off under the rock you came from and leave me the hell alone.

Thank you to the four people who pulled me through last night, I couldn’t have done it without you. X